Improving our care of victims

Improving our care of victims

Howard Broad, Police Commissioner

It may surprise you to learn our criminal justice system was formed on the idea there was only one victim: the state. A crime against one citizen was regarded as a crime against the Queen's peace.
 
Over time, agencies of the state (such as police) were given the ability to investigate and prosecute crimes against the Queen's peace.
 
The state was seen as all powerful. The criminal justice system balanced things out with a focus on protecting the rights of an individual suspected of committing an offence.
 
While the person harmed by the crime was supported and involved in the process, that was always a limited feature of the system.
 
In recent years, much has been done to bring people harmed by a criminal act into the centre of the justice system.
 
This week, a package of measures to support victims was launched by Justice Minister Simon Power and Police Minister Judith Collins.
 
For police, the most significant measure is a new ability to issue Police Safety Orders. Police officers frequently walk into homes where they suspect family violence has taken place but they don't have enough evidence to make an arrest.
 
They now have a more effective option than a warning. A Police Safety Order will protect victims from immediate harm and give officers a chance to arrange support for the family. Intervention is the only way to break the family violence cycle - simply arresting the offender will not help long term.
 
Victims of crime also need simple and accurate information about the criminal justice system. A DVD and three brochures were also launched to help victims of serious crime understand their rights and the justice process.
 
These measures support our goal to prevent crime and prevent victimisation, and to provide victims with the high level of service they deserve.